Yes, this post is about what happened over two months ago, at the beginning of November. Sorry! I got busy (busy or lazy? who can tell). Anyway, as I was saying, I got back into Munich from visiting Warsaw and Vienna on a Sunday night. Then on Monday morning N. and the kids and I packed into the car (J. stayed home to work) and drove the two hours or so to Stuttgart, where N.’s parents and sister live.
Cue the PBS history documentary music… time to learn about Stuttgart.
First off, THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO KNOW about Stuttgart is that her American sister city is St Louis. Woohoo!
Stuttgart is the capital of Baden-Württemberg, the Bundesland (state) west of Bavaria. It is in the region of Swabia (which overlaps more or less with Baden-Württemberg, but also part of Bavaria-the-state). The name comes down to us from the “Suebi,” Germanic tribes who lived somewhere here as long as 2000 years ago and were known by the Romans. They (“the Suebi”– names of Germanic peoples prior to, say, 700 are fluid and don’t necessarily refer to what we would recognize as ethnic identities) migrated away, however, so only the name of the region remained.
The Romans came to this part of Germany, and founded a number of border forts in the first century AD, before they were pushed out by Germanic tribes in the third century. One of these forts was in a district of modern Stuttgart, on the east side of the river Neckar, which runs through the city. After the Romans left, it was probably still inhabited, but it wasn’t until 950 that Stuttgart was founded by one of the sons of Otto the Great. It was used as a horse-breeding camp for the cavalry, which is where it gets its name. “Stuttgart” literally means something like “breeding-horse enclosure-field” — from roots that are recognizable to English speakers, if you think about it a minute.
The Pre-Germanic word *stodo refers to a herd of horses you use for breeding, and it passed down through the later Germanic languages and into Old English as “stod,” which is the ancestor of the modern English word “stud.” See, that word has sexual connotations for a reason! (A related Pre-Germanic word, *stodjon, gives us the Old English word “steda” and both modern English words “stallion” and “steed.” Meanwhile, these Pre-Germanic words are descended from the Indo-European base *sta-, “to stand,” (think stasis, status, Pakistan, station, instead) because a herd stands in the field, get it??)
And “gart” is even easier, since it looks so much like “garden,” or “Garten” in German. In Old English, “geard” sounded more like its closer modern equivalent, the word “yard.” Although for us, “garden” now means a little place with plants growing in it, the root has more to do with an enclosure. So we have a “churchyard” or a “graveyard” (the enclosure around the church, literally walled off in the olden days), a “courtyard,” a “farmyard,” etc. So it’s a fairly common suffix for a German place-name.
I will just skip over all the rest of Stuttgart’s history, because I haven’t been able to research it on my own 😦 — I only know what N.’s father (an amateur local historian) told me, and what I can find on Wikipedia. I visited some cool historical places, however, so you’ll get more of an impression from that I hope.
(The view of the garden from “my room.” It was beautiful sunny fall weather!)
So yes, we went to visit the kids’ grandparents in the home where N. and her three siblings grew up. It was older than our house (which was built in the last 10 years), but not super old — I’d say it was built in the 60s or 70s (this is for Courtney’s benefit since I KNOW she’ll want to know). But it smelled a lot like the Cabin or my Wegener grandparents’ house, so I felt right at home and really enjoyed the four days we spent there. ESPECIALLY because their grandpa was such an amateur expert in German history in this region, from the Roman right up to modern times, and was very eager to share what he knew, since N. had told him I was really into history. He could speak some English, and understand more, and I could speak less German, but also understand more, and so at first he did his best to explain things in English to me, but as the conversations went on, he would switch into German and I could still follow and ask questions in English. This was my first experience trying out involved conversations with specialized vocabulary, and I was amazed how well it worked. I guess that most of the specialized vocabulary of medieval history, however, sounds at least similar in English, and I usually knew from context what kind of thing he would be talking about. It was fun!
One of the most entertaining stories he told me was about Queen Elizabeth II. Her Royal Highness, you might remember if you’ve seen the movie “The Queen,” is pretty outdoorsy and sporty (in an aristocratic sense) and particularly loves horses.
Here she is, happy about horsies! Well, she came once to Stuttgart on a visit of state. The city spent months renovating such-and-such and cleaning the old castles and getting everything to look shiny for the Queen. Finally she arrived, her car pulled up, and she stepped out (presumably in front of the Neue Schloss) and looked around… and the first thing she asked was, “Where are the horses?” Hahaha. Because she knew of Stuttgart, in her youth, as an important center for horse-breeding and other equestrian thingies. They were all flabbergasted but told her the horses were at stables outside of the city. N.’s father was really gleeful when he told me this story and obviously relished it.
The first night we were there was Halloween. Halloween (as we know it) being mainly a North American invention, they don’t traditionally celebrate Halloween in Germany. But I think it’s become more common for kids to celebrate it, because they’ve learned about it through American books and media and things. A few weeks before, I helped carve a pumpkin (something which they had to look up on the internet)), and our neighbor friend Philipp was so impressed by our grinning jack-o-lantern, he asked his mom to find out “how Kristen did it.” So I told her and they carved their own, very successfully. Of course, the best part of carving pumpkins is roasting the seeds with salt, so I was sure to tell them all how to do that… Yummm.
Anyway, the kids were all very excited to dress up and go trick-or-treating, so that evening we got ready…
Lea puts face-paint on Jonas, their then-4-year-old cousin. (He just spent the last week with us, to celebrate his 5th birthday – he was born on New Years Day!) Jonas and his mom also live in Stuttgart.
Jonas and Amelie. Amelie is a witch, and the others were just sort of “scary guys.”
Felix wasn’t sure what to make of it all…
Max as the Grim Reaper, or something. This is his standard “posing for a picture” face.
Lea checking out her old hag disguise, while Maya looks on.
Ready for spooking! In German you say “süß oder sauer?” (sweet or sour?). The first several houses we went to, no one answered, so it took us a while to start accumulating candy. We were out for over an hour, and Felix eventually got too tired to walk, so I carried him, and he almost fell asleep on my shoulder…
A German touch. These are the little paperlanterns that kids carry on Martinstag and for other celebrations…
Splitting up the loot is serious business.
The next day, Nov 1st, is All Saints Day, and I would have gone to church, but I ran into an unexpected difficulty, namely: Stuttgart is a Lutheran territory, so there weren’t any Catholic churches within walking distance (at least that I could find online). They have the reverse situation in Munich. Anyway, then the family had kindly figured out a plan for me to go to Esslingen that day — a nearby town which has retained or restored a lot of its medieval buildings and street-plans. So off I went… but that will be its own post! I have to skip on to the next day, when N.’s father took me on a tour of central Stuttgart.
The Schlossplatz in front of the New Schloss…
This is still the big government building in Stuttgart, and here was a whole string of limos and government cars (?) carrying some Chinese diplomats around. Which reminds me, one of the most enjoyable things about having N.’s father as a tourguide — aside from the fact that his name is Wolfgang — was that his English was rusty enough that he would search for the right word and come up with something like “Chinamen.” Like, “oh, look, here are some… ehm… I don’t remember… in the past we say Chinamen?” Ahaha, so I would say, “oh yes! Chinese people” and have my sneaky little laugh.
I include this because it’s a monument to the Roman presence in Stuttgart… I THINK (it’s been a long two months) this is a replica of a Roman relief that was excavated in the area. The inscription, in Latin and German, reads something like: Greetings to you who visit. Listen to the silent stones that speak like books out of the ground. It’s a quote from Swabish author and editor Josef Eberle.
There are two of these fountains in the Schlossplatz. This was actually taken the next day, when I went to meet up with my erstwhile Americorps co-worker, Kristine! We had a really nice couple of hours, and I think we talked nonstop about our kids (she is also here as an au pair! In fact, she is the reason I looked into au pair-ing in the first place, so you have her to thank for this blog I guess) and about how we were adjusting — she had just arrived, I think, two weeks before? But once again, I failed to get a picture of us together… so you’ll just have to trust that this happened.
There was also this column, a monument to King Wilhelm. The inscription on the side reads: “To the truest friend of his people, King Wilhelm, the beloved, the state of Württemberg dedicates this monument for the celebration of the 25th year of his reign. October 30th, 1841.” I was really interested in the reliefs on the sides… so… you’ll get to see lots of it.
Here is Wilhelm receiving “tribute from both chambers” (?). Some government thing. I would also like to point out what I learned from Wikipedia, and that is: Wilhelm married three times. First to a Bavarian princess (whom after their divorce married the Holy Roman Emperor), then to the daughter of the Russian Tsar who was his first cousin (and who herself had a Württemberg-royalty mother), and finally to a Württemberg duchess who was another first cousin. He had children in his second and third marriages.
Alright, moving on.
We went to see the Altes Schloss. Its current appearance dates from the Renaissance, although there was a castle on the site from the 10th century. It was mostly destroyed (along with more than 60% of the inner city) by Allied bombs in WWII, but has been restored. It houses the Württemberg State Museum.
It’s lovely, isn’t it?? I wish I lived here.
Into the museum! Here are some dukes or kings or whatnot. I paid close attention to Wolfgang’s explanations… two months ago. Now I can only remember that every so often he would point one out and say, “And this one was… how do you say?… eh, he was a homosexual.”
This was a series of portraits of the kings of Württemberg… it was really interesting to see the clothing styles change. Wolfgang is an expert in coats of arms, so he was pointing out which each one was and what it meant when they were arranged in different combinations, and so on.
I think these ones were related somehow to William and Mary. Ugh, this is getting boring. Gotta change it up.
I took these close-ups of the portraits to show the detail and texture. Look at his awesome sleeve!
One of the later dukes, as a boy, plays with toy soldiers.
The coolest part to me was their collection of cool old objects. Unfortunately I don’t know dates for any of them, but most of these are not medieval.
A reliquary with ivory reliefs.
In the gift shop there were some different things commemorating the Swabian Claus von Stauffenberg, one of the leaders of the Operation Valkyrie plot to assassinate Hitler. A nearby street is named after him, as well.
Nearby there is a statue of Friedrich Schiller, the great poet of Württemberg!
Next up, the Stiftskirche… It is the main church in central Stuttgart, and has been Evangelisch (Lutheran) since 1534. This was the second really old church converted to a Lutheran church that I had seen (the first was in Esslingen…) and so I was really curious to see what it was like. Here’s the complete history of the church founded on this site.
They have found traces of Alemanni graves from the 7th or 8th century. Then in the 10th and 11th centuries there was an early Romanesque village church, whose foundations are underneath the nave of the present church. Then around 1240 a late Romanesque basilica was built, with Gothic additions throughout the 14th century, until a new late Gothic building was constructed throughout the last half of the 15th century.
The Duke aligned himself with the Lutheran German princes, and so on May 16th, 1534, “Hofprediger” Konrad Dettinger preached the first Lutheran sermon in the church, and in 1553 Reformer Jonannes Brenz was the first Lutheran pastor. Then and in the 17th century they made several changes to the statuary, as you’ll see in a bit. Then during the war, this happened:
When it was time to restore the building, they had lost the original roof, so they decided to experiment a little bit. It’s been changed over the last few decades, but currently they have this:
Other features are also modern, such as these pseudo-Gothic statues on the facade:
However, these statues inside are late medieval preservations. I think you should all recognize this scene.
I’m not sure how to explain it, but there is a very different feeling in a Lutheran church than in a Catholic church, even when the architecture is basically equivalent. The difference in sacramental theology means there is a different perception of sacred space, and you can just feel it, particularly in the way other people move around and act inside — there is no “sacred bubble” around the altar or the tabernacle (since there is no tabernacle), and no tradition of gestures, etc. I noticed it more in the church in Esslingen, but it was noticeable here as well. Here, like in many modern Catholic churches, the altar has a diminished status and there is less division of space. This picture is taken from the east end of the nave, behind the altar, on the steps leading into the chancel and choir.
Here are the statues behind the seats in the choir. They depict the medieval and early modern dukes of Stuttgart and Württenberg, in fanciful 16th century imagination. These were commissioned in 1574.
Real medieval kings did not quite dress like this. 🙂 What was really fascinating about these statues is that they depicted notable political figures. In medieval churches, and in post-Reformation Catholic churches, political figures and patrons were put into paintings or statuary art as supplicants, but were subordinate to saints and religious figures like Christ or Mary. And I feel like it would be more likely to find statues of royalty in less central areas, like on the exteriors outside the doors. But especially in the choir, it is most fitting to depict saints or previous bishops and so on. German Lutheranism, at least in this instance, more or less firmly rejected the cult of the saints and substituted for it the cult of the state. Not that you can blame it entirely on anti-Catholicism — the growth and power of the nation-state was the wider trend in early modern Europe. In Baroque churches in Bavaria there are endless motifs of the Wittelsbach coat of arms and other reminders that stately power was seen as firmly embedded in the religious character of a nation. Still, this is the introduction of a different sensibility that you can also find in other traditions that embraced the Reformation (like in England).
However, everybody had effigies of dead royalty.
Almost done now, but I also thought the pulpit was interesting:
There are a few traditional and common themes to use on a pulpit — one of them is to have the four Latin Doctors of the Church (Jerome, Augustine, Ambrose, Gregory), but another is to have the Four Evangelists, and it is easy to guess which theme the Lutherans chose. But everything else about this iconography is traditional — Matthew sits and writes his gospel, watched by his traditional symbol (the angel).
How’s this for a change of pace? I went into a toy store and was disappointed, as I always am these days, by the Ken dolls. In MY day, Ken was so masculine you could shave him, and he didn’t have Justin Bieber hair. Now he literally looks 15 (though I suppose Barbie and Ken are “supposed” to be teenagers, although Barbie has the hips of a 25 year old). He is definitely not the “ultimate boyfriend.” Although I was kind of tempted to buy the talking one so I could have a Ken who talked to me in German, hahaha.
Well, after three days we drove back home and arrived in the evening. Their grandparents had given the kids a big bag of dress-up clothes to take home with them, and they had to try them out immediately.
This is just a scene out of my brother’s childhood.
Oh no, now there’s two of them.
The finished result.
Then everybody had to get in on the fun.
Except Felix, he wasn’t going for it. (But look at his Mad Men helmet!)
OKAY, that was Stuttgart! Next: Esslingen. Hopefully soon. Sorry this was so long!